December 2015 Issue

Aircraft Propeller Maintenance

Theyíre airfoils, and have optimal angles of attack, just like wings.

Boiled down to the basics, there are two kinds of airplane propellers: fixed-pitch and everything else. With a fixed-pitch prop, of course, the pilot canít change the angle at which the blades are aligned with the hub and thereby adapt it to situations involving variations in power and airspeed, both of which can influence a propellerís efficiency. Depending on an operatorís needs, a fixed-pitch prop can be designed to maximize cruise speed or climb performance, but not both. In fact, it will be most efficient at only a specific, optimized rpm. At all other rpm settings, performance will suffer. The result found on the typical personal airplane usually is a compromise between allowing the engine to turn at its best-power rpm (climb) and creating the greatest forward momentum (cruise).

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